Management carousel continues at Holland's Pies

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Management

Management carousel continues at Holland's Pies
Holland’s Pies md Ed Hyslop has left the firm, with industry insiders identifying him as the first high-profile casualty of businessman Ranjit Boparan's move to restructure management at Northern Foods.

A Northern Foods spokesman confirmed the news, and asked whether Hyslop was jumped or pushed, said his departure was consistent with Northern's restructure into branded and chilled divisions last year, when several divisional mds went.

Quizzed as to how soon a replacement might be found, in light of the restructure he questioned whether Holland's required a separate md, and said the business remained the ultimate responsibility of branded chief Graham Hunter.

But one source close to Northern told it came as no surprise, that Hyslop wasn’t the right man to run the Accrington business​and was Boparan's first high-profile casualty. "So Ranjit’s obviously got stuck into him already,”​ he said.

Less ‘hands on’

After spending 10 years at Woodward Food Service, Hyslop joined Northern in April 2010, and told a local press reporter just last month that he believed his job was safe. However, a second source suggested that he believed Hyslop's role was never meant to be a long-term appointment.

Hyslop is rumoured to have had a less ‘hands on’ management style than his predecessor as md Neil Court-Johnston. The source said he was initially brought in by Northern as a consultant to lay the foundations of a more successful pie business, which includes Holland's and less successful brand McDougall's, and was later offered a permanent role.

Court-Johnston left Holland’s last May​ after Northern alleged that he had talked to third parties without consent regarding a management buyout of Holland’s, which employs 370 staff at its Baxenden facility.

Media reports late last week suggested that Boparan might seek to sell Holland’s Pies, given the need for a £10-20m capital expenditure investment to upgrade the ageing site (which opened in 1907).

Another third source close to the firm said he believed “Boparan will probably sell it, but in my view the investment figures quoted for improvements ​[£10-20m] are grossly exaggerated.”

He said the firm would fetch a “good price”​, and that a third option touted beyond a new site or a straight divestment, Northern entering a joint venture with a partner to run Holland’s, was very unlikely. “If Boparan is trying to simplify the business then this isn’t going to help things, is it?”

Nice pie brand

The first source described Holland’s a “nice brand​, very well-known in the northwest of England, so if it were available I am sure there would be a number of interested parties.

“Northern Foods has attempted to sell Holland’s on a number of occasions in the past, and for whatever reason it hasn’t happened.

He said Northern's decision to merge it with the frozen pie arm of Irish brand Green Isle - bringing both businesses together under the same management team - "wasn’t a great move".

“The factory is very old, and probably not a realistic redevelopment opportunity. It’s an old mill building and it’s unlikely that anyone would want to invest in it."

On Tuesday Northern announced that finance director (January 2010-) and acting ceo (November 2010-April 2011) Simon Herrick would leave the business at an unspecified date.

Northern Foods director Jon Silk, who has also been finance director for the Boparan-owned 2 Sisters Food Group for the past five years, will also leave on June 30.

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A real shame

Posted by Richard Dunn,

A real shame to see more bad news emanating from Holland's. Without a shadow of a doubt, the business is one of the most iconic brands in the North West of the country. New hands on leadership is certainly needed - bring back Court-Johnston.

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Sweep Clean

Posted by Tinker73,

Glad to read re' the shake-up at Holland's. Has been on the silppery slope for a couple of years. Shame the loss of previous md when it was thriving.

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All eyes on Ranjit Boparan

Posted by James Lowery,

Boparan has done the right thing by acknowledging he had the wrong man at the helm.

Now he needs to finish the job by bringing back the MD that brought productivity and profit to this business.

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